Kinsman: Should Canada strengthen its military presence in the Arctic?

By: /
July 11, 2011
Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

Presence, yes, but why “military?” Where’s the threat? Fantasies like Peter MacKay’s Russian bomber runs, or Celluci’s Northwest Passage inbound terrorists? Give us a break.

Canada deserves an Arctic settlement presence, having only 2% of circumpolar population within the Circle of 2 million and 4% of Arctic regional settlement of 4 million. Russia and Norway have Circle cities (Murmansk, Norilsk, Tromso) bigger than Canada’s entire Arctic population, because they settled it. Our population is 50% indigenous, as opposed to 4% for Russia and 15% for Norway. They have connecting road and rail links – because they have Arctic activity.

Canadian Arctic economic activity is developing – example, Yellowknife diamonds – and so is international Arctic cooperation, no thanks to Canada, which has a third of the land mass. The way to validate our claim that the Northwest Passage is internal Canadian water is by negotiation, not a costly nonsensical military deployment.